Monday, December 31, 2012

Review - Well of the Damned by K.C. May

Having banished the demon released from its prison by his defeated nemesis Ravenkind, Gavin Kinshield faces new challenges: a magical barrage by Ravenkind's grieving mother and an age-old mystery whose time has come to be revealed.

A former member of an elite battlers' guild, Cirang Deathsblade has a dark past. She sits in gaol, awaiting the new king's sentence for her terrible crimes... but she's not who he thinks she is.

In exchange for leniency, Cirang leads Gavin to a centuries-old, hidden journal that holds the secrets of ancient kings and a magical wellspring with its own dark past... and an even more terrible future.

5 stars

When I read that K.C. May had decided to write a third and fourth book in her Kinshield Saga I was stoked. I have been a big fan of her writing since I read the first book in the series and was very curious to see what her next project was going to turn out to be.

Can the rough brawling warrant knight turned king manage a kingdom, a relationship, and deal with a surprise enemy from his past? This book continues the story as well as the quality of writing that I have come to expect from K.C. May. Gavin is still a great guy and I'm always rooting for him. It's amusing to me to see how he has difficulty dealing with the behavioral expectations for a ruler with his much rougher background. There is also more background given about Sithral Tyr and how he got to where he was in the earlier books.

Overall this is an extremely strong continuation to an already fantastic series. The plot twists keep things interesting and while there are some problems that get resolved more pop up and make it so that the next book in the series can't come soon enough.

Get your copy from Amazon now or start the series with The Kinshield Saga, an omnibus containing the first two books in the series with a bonus novella.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

There Comes a Prophet by David Litwack Book Tour


What’s so hot about dystopia?

The Telegraph in London recently wrote about dystopian fiction: “Wizards and vampires are out. The market is dominated now by societies in breakdown.”

What’s so attractive about burned-out worlds and people scrabbling for food in hollow shells of cities?

A closer look shows dystopia has been around a long time. Panic about the cold war and the atomic age produced such classics as 1984 and A Canticle for Leibowitz, as well as movies like On The Beach and Planet of the Apes with Charlton Heston’s famous last line: “You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!”

Today’s cause of dystopia is more varied. Environmental disasters replace war as the source of the apocalypse. Artificial intelligence goes wild. Social experimentation creates bizarre rules and mores. Brutal dictatorships oppress people for their entertainment. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road even offers up a world wasted without any explanation, where people stagger around just trying to survive.

And then there’s that most insidious dystopia, the one driven by good intentions (Lois Lowry’s The Giver or my own There Comes a Prophet).

Not a pretty picture. Then why so popular, especially among young adults who are just coming to terms with a world that, while not quite dystopian, is worse off than the innocent visions of their childhood?

The answer is what makes all great stories appealing. An individual wanting more from life, discovering things are worse than they thought and finding the courage to confront a world gone awry.

So relax. We’re not all suddenly infatuated with burnt out worlds. We’re doing what readers have done since time immemorial, falling in love with characters who challenge the system to test its limits and discover how to spread their wings and fly.

David Litwack is the author of the dystopian novel, There Comes a Prophet.









Who among us will cast aside a comfortable existence and risk death to follow a dream?


A world kept peaceful for a thousand years by the magic of the ruling vicars. But a threat lurks from a violent past. Wizards from the darkness have hidden their sorcery in a place called the keep, and left a trail of clues that have never been solved.

Nathaniel has grown up longing for more, but unwilling to challenge the vicars. Until his friend Thomas is taken for a teaching, the mysterious coming-of-age ritual. Thomas returns but with his dreams ripped away. When Orah is taken next, Nathaniel tries to rescue her and ends up in the prisons of Temple City. There he meets the first keeper of the ancient clues. But when he seeks the keep, what he finds is not magic at all.

If he reveals the truth, the words of the book of light might come to pass:

"If there comes among you a prophet saying 'Let us return to the darkness,' you shall stone him, because he has sought to thrust you away from the light."

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review - Light & Dark: The Awakening of the MageKnight

Danny Firoth is on the verge of beginning his final year in middle school. The only odd thing to happen on that fateful day is the appearance of new student in school, a beautiful girl named Sabrina Drake. Fascinated by not only her spellbinding looks, but her interest in a popular fantasy card game called Knights, Danny develops a school-age crush. However, before he can build up the courage to talk to her at length, he is confronted by the resident bully. Forced into a fight, he learns that he is not so average as a strange power awakens within him, allowing him to foresee the actions of others before they happen. With the help of this new ability, Danny is able to put his antagonist in his well-deserved place, but quickly finds himself punished with an after-school detention.

Awaiting the arrival of his not so happy mother, Danny is startled as a rumble shakes the very foundation of the school. Following the shuddering to its source, he discovers two frightful creatures engaged in an epic struggle of mortal combat, a large dragon and a strange shadowy being. Nearly torn to pieces by the creature of shadow and saved by the creature of legend, the dragon, Danny barely escapes.

The next day at school, Danny joyfully finds that Sabrina Drake has taken a curious interest in him. With plans to meet after school, Danny’s dark thoughts, once centered on the frightful events the night before, become focused on his crush. However, things do not go as planned as the creature of shadow appears once more, forcing Sabrina Drake to forgo her secret and transform into the familiar form of the dragon that saved Danny the previous evening. After defeating the dark creature, Sabrina Drake resumes the shape of a human and begins to explain that the popular card game of Knights is more than simply a game, but reality. She describes an ancient struggle with the creature she has just defeated, dating back hundreds of years as well as an Order that has vowed to destroy them, the Light. Discovering that he has a rare ability to see these forces of darkness, Danny accepts an invitation to be tested for the possibility that he could one day become a Knight of the Light.

Danny as well as four of his closest friends are judged worthy and accepted into the White Rock Academy of Illumination, a school for young Squires destined to become Knights of the Light and battle the forces of the Dark with magical weapons called Bondeds; swords created from the souls of fallen Knights of the Light.

Upon the back of a full-blooded Draconic, a dragon as well as Sabrina’s father, Danny and his friend's venture to the Florida coast where they board an old, but magical ship, and set sail for the Bermuda Triangle. In the center of the legendary triangle is a swirling tempest of black clouds, created by an ancient tear between the human world and the world of the Shadows. With the help of a Navi, a wizard specialized in navigating the dangers of the dark storm, Danny and his friends arrive safely at White Rock Island where they begin the training of their lives. Honed in the techniques of blade work by an Elvin swordmaster, Sir Syndil, and educated by a colorful assortment of professors, Danny and his friends learn battle strategy, hand to hand combat, defense against the magical arts, and a history of the ancient conflict with the Shadows.

However, discovering a powerful ability within himself that may mark him as the destined savior foretold, the Mageknight, Danny must question the intentions of his instructors. With the help of his friends, Danny must use everything he has learned to thwart the betrayal of someone within the Order of Light in this fantastic tale of dragon-riding adventure, sword-wielding action, and coming of age drama.


4 stars

Light & Dark: The Awakening of the MageKnight by Daniel M. Fife is a story that has some similarities to other books aimed at the same age group.  Taking a seemingly normal 13-year-old (Danny) and revealing that he has a special ability is not really an uncommon plot device.  The fact that a new student at his school turns out to be apart of a secret war of light vs darkness and that he and his friends must attend a special school to learn to harness their unique abilities to become warriors for the light all seems familiar.  Although the complete saturation of the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson books make a lot of YA fantasy/adventure books ring with familiarity.  

All that being said I really enjoyed this book.  Danny discovering his powers while standing up to a bully is a great scene that really sets up his character early.  The school that Danny and his friends attend is a well designed place filled with very interesting people.  I also really enjoyed the dragon/drake aspect of the story.  The plot was good and had a fairly consistent pace, it slowed down a bit in a few places, but nothing that killed the book for me or anything like that.  

I have a lot of friends who have kids in the right age group for this book and I will be recommending it to them for sure.  If you enjoyed the Zero Sight series by B Justin Shier you may enjoy this as well.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

James Hutchings discusses serialized novels

It’s not easy being a fantasy writer who prefers short stories.

Conan, created by Robert E. Howard in 1932, appeared almost entirely in short stories. The one novel about him was originally published in a short story magazine in several parts.

In the 1960s, Michael Moorcock’s Elric appeared in short stories for several years, and the first ‘novel’ about him was actually several short stories, slightly rewritten to hang together.

Today, however, the dominant form of fantasy is not just novels, but ‘doorstops’ — long, long novels that are often part of long, long series. The fourteen-novel Wheel of Time series is the quintessential example.

One reason for this form is perhaps the dominance of Lord of the Rings. Another is economics: if they like the first book, people will often buy the sequel and its sequel; and many fantasy readers want a world they can be ‘immersed’ in, which translates to a world with a lot of detail, which is to say long books.

I almost exclusively write fantasy, and I much prefer to write short stories. In fact my best story is less than 200 words long. So I don’t fit well into the modern market, where 200 pages is too short (at least for a book aimed at adults: books for children can be shorter, although come to that even the Harry Potter series ‘bloated’ as it went on).

So I was interested in JukePop Serials, a new site which encourages writers to post novels, but chapter by chapter rather than all at once. It’s designed to mimic the way that stories were often published in magazines in smaller parts, and only later collected as a novel. Charles Dickens published this way, as did Jules Verne. It encourages a kind of writing that’s more like a series of short stories — or perhaps like a TV series, where there’s an overall story but also a series of episodic incidents.

I decided to put up a story that I’d started on, but ran out of steam. It’s called The Case of the Syphilitic Sister, and it’s a kind of detective story where the detectives are superheroes. The feedback I’ve gotten so far has been pretty good (either good as in praise, or good as in helpful suggestions of how to change it).

Whether the site survives or not, it’s at least given me some ideas on how I can write novels, which aren’t my preferred form but which you really have to write if you want to get anywhere in my genre.

To check out his story go to http://www.jukepopserials.com/home/read/13 reading anything after the first chapter requires a free registration.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Review - The Listeners by Harrison Demchick

Before the plague, and the quarantine, fourteen-year-old Daniel Raymond had only heard of the Listeners. They were a gang, maybe even a cult, or at least that’s what his best friend Katie’s police officer father had said. They were criminals, thieves, monsters—deadly men clearly identifiable by the removal of their right ears.

That’s what Daniel had heard. But he didn’t know.

He didn’t know much in those early days. He didn’t know how the plague began, but then, no one did. The doctors and emergency medical personnel said it was airborne, and highly contagious. They said those infected became distorted both inside and out, and very, very dangerous.

Then the helicopters came and took the doctors away, and no one said much of anything after that.

Except the police officers. They said they’d provide food and order, in exchange for guns and, ultimately, anything else they felt like taking.

Daniel’s mother went out for toilet paper. She never came back. He hasn’t heard from Katie since the phones went dead. And with his real family gone and surrogate family unreachable, Daniel, scared and alone, has nothing except the walls of his apartment, the window shattered, the poisonous air seeping in.

That’s when the Listeners arrive. Derek, the one-eared man with the big, soulful eyes, promises protection, and hope, and the choice not to sit alone and wait to die in some horrific way. He offers a brotherhood under the watch of their leader, the prophet Adam. He offers a place in the world to come.

A harrowing work of literary horror, The Listeners, Harrison Demchick’s electrifying debut, is a dark and terrifying journey into loneliness, desperation, and the devastating experience of one young boy in a world gone mad.

4 stars

The Listeners by Harrison Demchick is a story of society breaking down.  When the plague hits and his neighborhood is quarantined life quickly changes for a 14 year old boy named Daniel.  Residents are encouraged to stay in their homes and that the plague should be contained shortly.  His mother leaves the house to get some more toilet paper she never returns, leaving Daniel to fend for himself.  After a run in with one of the infected and suffering from some police abusing their power Daniel meets some Listeners.  Daniel has heard of this gang from his friend Katie's father who is a local police officer.  The Listeners are said to be a group of violent criminals whose members all have an ear removed.

Daniel can't see anything wrong with them though.  He is adopted by the group and goes to live in their base in the basement of a grocery store.  Through this experience he learns a bit more about the plague and sees more of it's zombie like victims that the members call sickos.  As Daniel is indoctrinated into the brotherhood he begins to believe in the message spoken by their leader, the prophet Adam.

This book tells a haunting tale of what happens when the police become the only authority and they are abusing their power.  I was undecided on The Listeners trying to figure out if they were a force for good, a cult taking advantage of the terrible situation, or a criminal organization looking to muscle in and take the power.

As an unusual twist to the normal zombieish apocalypse story the infected are a background to this story.  There are not ravaging hordes trying to overwhelm a small group of survivors, they are the reason for the breakdown of society and an obstacle to those who are trying to survive.  The book follows Daniel for the most part with some offshoots following various other characters in the quarantine zone.  The book does show a bit from all angles with random people trying to survive as well as a viewpoint from some police officers in the crisis area.

This book had me guessing throughout.  I was constantly wavering on what I thought The Listeners were really trying to accomplish.  It's a great book for people who enjoy post apocalyptic, zombie, thriller books.  There is a bit of a surprise towards the end that really got me.  This book will definitely not be for everyone, but it is worth a look to see if it clicks for you.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

New release from D.P. Prior

The story of the Nameless Dwarf reaches it's conclusion with the publication of The Nameless Dwarf The Complete Chronicles.  If you are looking for a great fantasy read and a bargain check this one out.  The price tag is 5.99, but that includes all 5 volumes of the Nameless Dwarf Stories.  This is also great for people who have checked out his Shader series as you get a bit more info about the world and some of the characters.  Be sure to pick up a copy for yourself or buy one for your favorite fantasy fan for the holidays.


The dwarves have gone!

Thousands have been slaughtered in the blood-drenched streets of their ravine city by one of their own wielding a demonic axe.

The survivors have fled beyond the mountains, heading into a realm haunted by the nightmares of a twisted god.

When Nils Fargin, son of an underworld boss, is hired to find them, he travels with his client to seek the advice of a lowlife mage. With what he learns, he should have asked for more money.

The trail leads them to the domain of the terrifying Ant-Man, who is rumored to eat the flesh of anyone refusing to pay his toll.

And as if that wasn’t enough, it turns out Nils’s client is none other than the Nameless Dwarf, better known to his kind as the Ravine Butcher.


The Nameless Dwarf is an epic tale of remorse and redemption that pits a whiskerless thief, a guilt-driven assassin, a consumptive wizard, and an amnesiac dwarf against the worst imaginings of a craven mind.

But the companions bring troubles of their own, not least of which is an ancient grimoire that leads them inexorably towards a forest of tar and an evil that threatens the existence of an entire race.

The last hope of the dwarves comes from the unlikeliest of sources: a mythical city beneath the waves, an axe from the age of heroes, and the Nameless Dwarf, in whose veins flows the blood of legends.


The Nameless Dwarf: The Complete Chronicles contains all five books of the Chronicles of the Nameless Dwarf, fully revised and including all the original covers and a stunning map of Aethir.

Priced individually, these books cost:

The Ant-Man of Malfen - $0.99
The Axe of the Dwarf Lords - $2.99
The Scout and the Serpent - $2.99
The Ebon Staff - $2.99
Bane of the Liche Lord - $3.99

By buying The Nameless Dwarf you get all 5 books for $5.99, which represents a saving of $7.96


Background:

It was against the laws of the dwarves to act in the world beyond their city, to study the old texts, or to enter the underworld—and with good reason. The deceptions of the Demiurgos, Father of the Abyss, are everywhere, and once before they brought betrayal and death on a scale that must never be repeated.

When they are accosted by one of their own with a demonic axe found on the brink of the Abyss, drastic measures are needed. The link between axe and wielder is broken by a helm of scarolite, and the lawbreaker is held in stasis in the bowels of the Ravine City, Arx Gravis. To complete his shame, his name is taken from him, permanently removed from history.

When this Nameless Dwarf is awakened by the voice of the knight, Deacon Shader, he becomes embroiled in the battles against the unweaving of all creation by the technocrat, Sektis Gandaw. He later partakes in a quest to find three artifacts with which to shatter the lingering power of the black axe and free himself from the scarolite helm. Too late, it is revealed as a trap laid by the Demiurgos and his spawn, the homunculi, and the Nameless Dwarf returns to Arx Gravis as a brutal dictator, slaughtering his kin by the thousands.

Finally, his tyrannical rule is brought to an end by his closest friend, the assassin Shadrak the Unseen. With the axe destroyed and the scarolite helm broken, the Nameless Dwarf realizes the magnitude of his atrocities. A mere few hundred dwarves have survived his reign of terror, and they have fled Arx Gravis in fear of what he might do next.

Hearing rumors that they have headed into the nightmare land of Qlippoth, where they will surely face extinction, the Nameless Dwarf hires the son of a New Jerusalem guild boss to help him find them.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Giveaway and guest post by M.H. Mead

Caught Between Two Worlds
by Margaret Yang and Harry R. Campion
writing together as M.H. Mead

Being part of Generation X means always being one step behind. Those born between 1965 and 1982 learned to type on typewriters, yet we work on the latest laptops. We started with three channels of television, yet we adore Netflix. We grew up with rotary phones, yet we lust after the latest iGadget.

Many baby boomers, and the older generation before them, shun things like cell phones and Facebook. It’s overwhelming to them. They learn to use such things only when they must, and just when they start to understand it, things change. The older they get, the less the effort seems worth it. On the other hand, most Millenials (born between 1982 and 2000) are digital natives. They are as uncomfortable without their computers as their grandparents are with them. Millenials have no problem using Skype, Facebook and an iPod at the same time. Their grandparents are annoyed by change. Change is the rule for Millenials.

But what of Generation X, in between? We use the latest technology, but it’s a second language to us. No matter how well we understand it, we will always speak it with an accent. We both accept and are bothered by constant change. We carry our cell phones everywhere and check email constantly, all the while resenting that we have to.

It gives us a unique perspective. We used some of that experience when crafting the hero of our science fiction novel, Taking the Highway. Thirty-four year old Andre LaCroix is caught between generations when the world changes. However, Andre’s world is going in the opposite direction. High tech gadgets are considered tacky, and not for use in polite company. People still use their smart phones and computers as much as ever, but only when necessary, and only for work, never for play (at least not in public). In Taking the Highway, it’s the senior citizens who meet life armed with the latest gadgets, while the motto of the younger generation is “keep it real.”

Not only is Andre caught between generations, he’s also caught between careers—one high tech and one not. In his day job, he’s a homicide detective. He uses every available modern resource to catch killers, from holographic target ranges to a phone implanted in his skull. But he also moonlights as a professional hitchhiker, or fourth. Since cars need four passengers to access the super-fast, computer-controlled highways, those who come up short hire extra riders—fourths—to fill their cars. Andre literally stands on street corners, waiting to be picked up by cars needing a rider. There is no app for that.

It’s just this combination that lets him see things clearly when both sides of his life are threatened. Someone is killing fourths and Andre is the only one who can solve it. He needs all of his skills, both high-tech and non, to bring the killer to justice. Being in between—between two jobs, between two generations—is exactly what he needs to get the job done.

When hitchhiking becomes the profession that saves the city, who will save the hitchhikers?

Detroit is thriving, once again on the move. The key to this motion may be the fourths--professional hitchhikers who round out incomplete carpools, allowing the car entrance to the superfast, computer-controlled highways.

The city needs fourths. Fourths need the work. It's an easy way to earn some extra cash.

Or to end up dead.

Someone is killing fourths and the only one who can stop the killer is jaded homicide detective Andre LaCroix, who moonlights as a fourth himself.

Taking the Highway is the newest science fiction thriller from the authors of The Caline Conspiracy and Fate's Mirror.

Now for the giveaway.  The authors of this book will provide an ebook (format chosen by the winner) to one lucky winner.  Open internationally all winning entries will be verified.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Review of Blood Sword by Terry W Ervin II

The Necromancer King has been defeated and his surviving forces are in retreat. But a new threat marches against the Kingdom of Keesee, promising destruction. Scouting along the western frontier, Flank Hawk and Grand Wizard Seelain discover an army massing, the army of Fendra Jolain, Goddess of Healing. Weakened and battle weary, Keesee and her allies cannot withstand Fendra Jolain's powerful army of men and beasts arrayed against them. One hope of survival remains: Retrieve the Blood Sword from the immortal Colonel of the West and bring its sinister strength to the battlefield. To accomplish this end, Flank Hawk accompanies Grand Wizard Seelain as she leads a mission across land and sea. Together they find new allies while confronting new foes, learning that the war ravaging Keesee is part of a larger struggle whose roots stretch back to the First Civilization's Fall. If the Blood Sword can be obtained, it must be done quickly. Every day means more death for the defenders of Keesee. Every day is one day closer to utter defeat. Even if Flank Hawk can deliver the Blood Sword to King Tobias's hand in time, will the malevolent blade's magic be enough?

4 stars

Blood Sword is the follow up novel to Flank Hawk in the First Civilization's Legacy series. The story picks up after the defeat of the Necromancer King with the forces of Fendra Jolain, Goddess of Healing, making a move. Flank Hawk has been assigned to the Grand Wizard Seelain, the Prince's fiance, as a personal bodyguard and it is a duty that he takes very seriously. There is also the issue of his secret healing powers. If it were known that he had any ability to manipulate healing energy he would have been turned over to the healers for full training with them, regardless of what he wants. With the conflict between the two kingdoms he really has no idea what will happen if his powers are revealed. To add another wrinkle to the situation his sister was taken by the healers years ago and he has no idea what has happened to her.

The one thing that I wish the book had was a greater involvement of Road Toad. He was one of my favorite's from the first book and while still involved, his part has been reduced quite a bit. The rest of the gang is still present including the always entertaining Lily. On the journey to retrieve the Blood Sword we are treated to a more in depth view of the Crusader society. Terry continues to write an excellent series filled with wonderful characters, exciting locations, and crazy battle scenes.


For more info check out the book's Amazon listing or visit the author's blog.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Child of Lightning release day!

On the one year anniversary of the publication of his first book, Wind-Scarred (free), Sky Luke Corbelli is releasing the conclusion of the trilogy with Child of Lightning.  It hasn't posted up on Amazon at the time of this post so I can't provide the link, but the description is available on Goodreads so I'll steal that to let you guys know what to expect.

Kirsten O'Donnell just wanted to do her job.

Now, the whole world's gone crazy. People are vanishing from Sanctuary, a secret war is being waged in the shadows, and none of the facts are adding up. As if that weren't enough, it's also beginning to look like someone wants to destroy the planet.

In this exciting conclusion to The Will of the Elements, Kirsten is sent hunting for answers as she tries to discover what exactly Ezra Hawkins has been up to.

The Children of Lightning are on the move...





Sky also has an interesting offer to anyone who would like to take a look at his books and leave him some reviews.  He made a YouTube video with all of the details so I'll let him explain it to you.

This is a great series and I highly recommend everyone taking him on his offer and snagging the first book at least.

The book is now officially up on Amazon so here is the link for anyone who was having difficulty finding it: Child of Lightning

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Free book and guest post by Elizabeth Baxter

Today we have author Elizabeth Baxter back for a second time to let us know about her new fantasy series The Wrath of the Northmen.  The first book, titled Everwinter, will be free from Dec 7-9 so be sure to stop by Amazon and pick up your copy!!  Now to get a bit of background here is a guest post from Bramwell, the main character of Everwinter, about winter.


Memories of Snow by Bramwell Thornley from Everwinter

I remember the first time I saw snow. I must have been about nine years old and it was one of the weirdest and most exciting things I'd ever seen in my short life. Here in Ral Tora, we hardly ever get snow. Winters are mild, with an increase in wind and rain the only thing to differentiate them from summer. Falen is always telling me that us Ral Torans are soft. “You’ve not known a winter until you’ve known a Varisean winter, Bramwell Thornley,” she likes to say. She reckons that in in the north it gets so cold the air can freeze in your lungs. I'm pretty sure she's having me on with that one.

When I was nine years old we had a freak winter storm. I woke to my mother shouting up the stairs, telling me to look out the window. As I pulled back the curtains, I saw that the streets of Ral Tora had disappeared beneath a sea of white. The sky was a white blanket high above and this funny soft stuff was falling from it. Without waiting to get dressed, I pelted down the stairs, through the living room, and into the street. I stood there in my pyjamas, socks soaking through with icy water, staring up in wonderment as great big fat flakes landed on my skin.

My mother dragged me back inside long enough for me to get dressed and put on a thick coat and boots, then I was back outside with the other children from the street, rolling in the drifts and throwing snowballs at each other and anyone else daft enough to get in our way. I remember that day as clear as yesterday. We spent hours outside building snowmen, stealing our mother scarves to dress them, and chasing each other through the white powder until our noses and cheeks were bright red and our chests heaved with the effort. But it didn't last long. Two days later, the wind changed direction, blowing the cold air to the north, where it should be.

I cried the day my snowman melted into a puddle. Now of course, it’s always snowing. The everwinter has covered the land and I can only shake my head at that naive child that loved the snow so much. Falen can no longer call Ral Torans soft. Now we walk around with scarves pulled up and thick coats on, just like the northerners do. I’m sick of snow. I'm sick of the cold, the dark, the ice. But part of me will always be that little kid, looking at something for the first time with a spark of excitement in my belly. Maybe that’s how I’ll feel when summer comes round again. We’ll see.

Elizabeth Baxter

Everwinter, Book 1 of epic fantasy series, The Wrath of the Northmen is available at Amazon FREE Dec 7-9!!  For more special promos check out www.yafantasybooks.com.

You can visit the author at: http://elizabethbaxter.blogspot.co.uk/

The powers of old and new are on a collision course in the land of Thanderley. Ancient gods have broken free of their imprisonment and cursed the lands with a terrible winter, a scourge that is sweeping science and the new ways from the earth. In the city of Ral Tora, Bramwell, a young engineer, battles to save his home from the encroaching ice. But there will be no exceptions. The gods will reclaim what was theirs and destroy any who oppose them.

Once more, the balances are tipped. Magic and science cannot exist in harmony, yet Bramwell must master both to save everything he loves from destruction.

Everwinter is the first novel of the fantasy series, The Wrath of the Northmen.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Giveaway and guest post by Janelle Jeffrey author of Winter and the Secret of Santa

Tis the season!

And as I dust off my tired copy of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, complete with archaic vocabulary that my children can barely understand, I am plagued, once again, by a question that haunts me as relentlessly as Jacob Marley haunts Ebenezer Scrooge.

Why don’t we ever write anything new about Santa?

There are literally hundreds of stories written about Santa, and ‘new’ ones appear every year. But the term ‘new’ should be used lightly. Because, when it comes to stories about Santa, there are really only two story lines.

The first is the “Oh No [insert gasp] Christmas is Going to be Cancelled.”

In this story line, something terrible happens: an elf goes missing, Santa gets sick, the sleigh breaks down, a snowstorm blows in, etc. This untimely event threatens Santa’s ability to deliver the presents. Our children, subconsciously terrified that this could actually happen, gasp. Oh no! But, just in the nick of time, the problem is solved, and Santa is able to fly off into the night.

Phew. Crisis averted. Rest assured, young ones. There will be presents under that tree after all.

Sound familiar? Hey Rudolph, any chance you and that nose of yours are free tonight?

The second story line is the “I Didn’t Believe But Now I Do.”

In this story line, someone, of any age, for whatever reason, loses his or her belief in Santa. But, alas, something happens, some sort of irrefutable proof, and voila! Belief is restored! This story line generally appeals to the kids (or adults) that have already lost their belief in Santa. And, rather than reinforcing true belief in Santa, it aims to reinforce the ‘spirit’ of Santa.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. Just hop aboard The Polar Express.

So there we have it. Santa has to either save Christmas. Or prove he’s real. And the hundreds of stories written about Santa are just variations of these two simple story lines.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love these stories as much as the next person. And a lot of them are classics for a reason. However, I’m trying really hard to stay off the Naughty List this year. So I should be honest. For Christmas this year, I would like a new Santa story to add to my bookshelf.

But a library that lacks original Christmas stories is really only the first problem. The second problem is the Santa myth itself.

It’s stagnant.

We live in a culture obsessed with re-creating popular story lines and characters. How many different versions of Snow White do we have? And Spiderman? And vampire tales? And worlds of witchcraft and wizardry? (Just to name a few.....)

We constantly change these stories, we constantly re-create these characters, because our world is constantly changing. And what we do with these stories, the changes that we make, become a reflection of where we were, or are, as a culture at any particular time.

But not Santa.

Nope.

Because we’ve never really changed anything about him. He still lives in the ‘North Pole’. He prefers snail mail. He has a hard copy of the Nice and Naughty List. He crawls down chimneys. His vocabulary consists of ‘ho-ho-ho’ and ‘Merry Christmas.’

He is a ‘jolly ole chap.’

Now, this was all fine and dandy when the myth originated. When the majority of people had fire places. When writing letters was the most common form of communication. When most places in the world were far away and vague.

But today?

Our children carry passports. They Skype. They live in condos and apartments. They are more aware of the world around them then ever before. They have more access to information than ever before. And they ask more questions, sophisticated questions, than ever before.

They are quick. They are clever. And they are outsmarting us on the Santa front.

Because our story is outdated. Our myth has cracks. Santa has not evolved the way our other beloved characters have. And our children can sense this. They are sniffing out these cracks. Faster than we can say: “‘Twas is just an old-fashioned way of saying ‘it was’.”

It’s only a matter of time, then, before they bust this Santa thing wide open.

This is, of course, only my opinion. Some festive food for thought.

Maybe we need a new story line. Maybe we need to re-create, or at least enhance, the Santa myth. Maybe we need to claim him, the way we, as a culture, have claimed so many other characters.

www.winterandthesecretofsanta.com

Maybe we need a new Santa story for the bookshelf.


Strange and magical things are happening to Winter. Things that definitely should not be happening. Snowballs are changing into ornaments, talking squiggles are falling from the sky, her toast is growing candy canes, and her brother is talking to reindeer. And all Winter wants to do is stay off The Naughty List, sneak into the Elves Workshop, and attend the Santa Clausification ceremony with her friends.

But then it happens. The most strange and magical thing of all. And this time, it's serious.

Join Winter, her brothers Nick and Freeze, her sister Holly, and her parents, Joy and Santa, as Winter discovers her family's best kept secret.

Winter and The Secret of Santa. Discover the truth. This Christmas.

Now is time for the giveaway.  Janelle has agreed to giveaway one of her limited print edition copies of her book.  There are a limited number of these and here is a chance to get one for free!!  This giveaway is open to residents of the continental US and Canada.


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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Special offer from Kevin McGill on Nikolas & Company book 1

A long time ago in a world not so far away... Senior stagecoach driver Yeri Willrow thought he was performing a simple drive and drop for his mysterious passengers, until foul-breath red-eyed creatures attack the stagecoach. He soon learns that his passengers are a family of automaton-legged merfolk, and he is their only hope. Yeri suddenly finds himself tasked with saving the merfolk or they will fall to the peril of the creature most foul. Sometime in the near future... Nick lives in a time when one can zip from country to country in mach-speed hovercars, extend their life indefinitely through cerebral downloads, and have every whim taken care of by their ever faithful nannydrone. Nick hates it. Aside from the refugee camps, overpopulation, and unchecked consumerism filling every city across the globe, Nick just doesnt belong. That is when he hears the voice of a woman: The Rones lie about their true intent. They enter the city of Huron at the peril of us all. Shortly after, his slightly crazed grandfather reveals to him: "All you've ever heard about Moon is a lie, my dear Nikolas. He was not always a mere satellite, a ghost wandering the stars. In an age before our own, Moon was our twin, and in him bore the whole of magical life. The cradle of this magical civilization was a fantastic metropolis filled with fire-breathing winged lions, volcano-born nymphs, automaton-legged mermaids, and so much magic you could smell it. We called this city Huron, and you, Nikolas, are her steward."

For the holiday author Kevin McGill and Aero Studios are doing a special offer for the first book in his Nikolas & Company series.  For a limited time you can get a signed print copy of his book for only $3.99 with free shipping!  This is a great early teen book for a unique gift or for people who enjoy collecting unique books.  Check out the promo site for more info and the links to buy!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Giveaway and guest post with Robert Anderson author of Contrails

I started writing when I was seventeen. A little late to the party, I know, but I’ve always been a bit of a late bloomer and I look back on it now as a blessing because it gave me time to get all those juvenile preoccupations out of the way before getting down to work. Twelve years on, I feel like I’m hitting my stride. Malcolm Gladwell (Blink, Outliers) claims that it takes somewhere in the neighborhood of ten thousand hours to master a craft (that’s five years of fifty forty-hour weeks for those of us, like me, who abhor math) and although I do not claim to have mastered anything, I can say that I’ve made at least a dent in this timetable. The words are coming now with less force, more grace. I just published my second novel, Contrails, and am two-thirds into its sequel.

Now Contrails had an interesting birth and it’s the topic of my sermon (just joking) today. Its conception is an example of the power of collaboration, of friendship, of the value of having people you trust to read your work. The most amazing and creative things can happen when an open environment exists to foster their growth.

Quick flashback. The year is 2010. I had just finished my first novel, The Unaccounted For. It’s an eighty-thousand word, semi-autobiographical account of my time working as an accountant in Detroit during the recession of 2008/2009. Hard times indeed. Anyway, I gave it to my best friend to read (we’ll just call him Pilot X for now). He’s read most of my short stories from the time I spent toiling in the creative writing workshops at the University of Michigan. He always gives unbiased criticism (a valued trait in a reader/friend). He’s also an airline pilot and devoured the book in three days on a cross-country trip. He loved it, I thought, judging by the short time it took him to read it. Then he told me he loved it. He said, “Bobby, I loved it.” I’m currently in the process of publishing it (but we’ll discuss that book in a future post, if I’m invited back).

But the magic took place afterwards. Somewhere along the way his right-brain began turning, subconscious burgeoning with material. Nine months later he emails me a ten- thousand word document which would ultimately become the beginning of Contrails. I was blown away. As a writer, I know firsthand the difficulty of producing ten thousand words with a unified, coherent theme. It takes time, effort—no easy feat. So I ask him, I say, “Why’d you do this?” And he says, “We’re going to do the same thing you did.” And I say, “Huh?” And he says, “I’ll give you the juicy ins-n’-outs of my job and you’re going to write it.” And I say, “I am?” And he says, “Yes.”

And there you have it, folks. Seven months later, Contrails was born. The power of collaboration, the beauty of friendship. It’s been Kirkus reviewed, is available on all the major sites. I couldn’t be more proud of my writing, his contribution, our teamwork. We all have a book inside of us, but oftentimes we become isolated, myopic, alone in our endeavors. Contrails a true example of what you can do when you open yourself up and share your story with others. Whenever I look up and spot a contrail splitting the sky now, I invariably smile, thinking of my own.

Now for the giveaway.  Robert has agreed to raffle off a print copy of his book Contrails.  This raffle is open only to residents of the continental US.  Good luck everyone.

In Anderson's debut thriller, a grounded pilot launches a new career as a drug runner. Civil Air pilot Sam Claymore can handle himself in the sky, but dealing with life on the ground is another story. Rushing to the gate for an early morning flight, the young airman can barely endure overzealous TSA agents, needy passengers and one unfortunate Starbucks barista. "This is what traveling has become: standing in line," he laments. One bright spot is flight attendant Victoria Knight, who draws Sam in with her exotic looks and "chameleon quality of being two people at once." While Sam skewers baggage fees and airport prices for bottled water, he also gives readers a convincing feel for the day-to-day life of an airline pilot. From the details of preflight inspection to FAA rules on alcohol consumption, the author shows an impressive knowledge of the job--and its potential for absurdity. Humorous episodes include a debate in the cockpit over whether aliens built the pyramids and a spot-on observation about airborne psychology: "Passengers listen to pilot announcements like religious fanatics listen to prophets, their collective fate dangling on the intrepid voice of the faceless air god."...This airline tell-all and comical crime tale is recommended in-flight reading. - Kirkus Review

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Guest post with Logan Rutherford author of the Visitors Trilogy

Hey everybody!

My name is Logan Rutherford, I am seventeen-years-old, and I am a published author. Now, that may sound crazy to you, but hey, back in ye’ olden days, twelve-years-old were captains of ships, and nobody batted an eyelash. It used to be 0-12 was considered a child, and if you were 13+, you were considered a man/woman. So to me, it’s not all that extraordinary. I’m just part of the minority of teenagers that believes that there’s more to life than the new Call of Duty game. I mean, I have no problem with it, but I know that I’d never get anything else done if I played video games. I have a hard enough time as it is getting writing done.

My days usually go like this: Wake up, go for walk, school, work, come home at around six, supper, check emails, and by that time it’s usually around nine. If my friends ask me to go hang out with them, then you can forget writing. It’s really hard to juggle all these things, but I love it. I wouldn’t change it for a thing. I usually do my writing late at night, and until early in the morning. I make up for the days that I did not get any writing done on Fridays. I write 7,000-10,000 words on Fridays. Some times during the week when I’m not busy, I can write anywhere from 2,000-7,000 words. So basically, I don’t get much sleep.

After a couple months of doing all that writing, the book somehow gets finished. I’m able to send it off to my editor, and relax for a week or two. I know that most people say that while your book is with your editor, you should start writing the second one. Well, that’s what ‘they’ say, but I don’t know who they are, and ‘they’ aren’t my parents, so I don’t listen to ‘them’. I take a break, and relax. Although, I don’t think a writer can do that, because were always thinking up ideas for the next book, series, and marketing strategies. So, it’s really not all that relaxing, but it’s better than beating yourself over the head for not spending your precious writing time to its fullest.

Once I get my book from my editor, I rejoice, and then apply the edits, and do my own last bit of editing. Then, it’s on to the publishing stage! Some people have different ideas on what is the hardest part about the entire process. For me, it’s the publishing. At first it was hard to get the hang of formatting a book, and it’s still a bit of a challenge to get everything right. And formatting for paperback? Talk about pulling your hair out. Not only that, but you have to market, market, market. Finding book blogs that are accepting reviews is a major pain. I’ve spent hours scouring the internet for them. But book bloggers are really the key to success. This all just wouldn’t be possible without them.

Even though at times it’s really stressful, being an indie author is tons of fun. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s really taught me a lot of things that I think are really helpful for a seventeen-year-old to know. It’s taught me how to be professional, and how to take criticism, which I think are two of the most important things you could know.

That’s all that I’ve got for you guys today. I wanna say thanks to Scott for having such an awesome book blog, and for having me on today. He’s helped me find a few books that I really like. Thanks for having me, and happy reading.

The White House has been engulfed by the shadow of a mysterious ship. Days go by, and the Visitors make no contact, until one day, they leave. Suddenly the Earth goes still. Billions of people disappear at once. There’s no trace as to where the vast population has gone. Seventeen-year-old Charlie Freeman and his cousin Alex, are two of the few left behind. While fighting for survival they join a girl named Sarah on her journey to Washington D.C. to rescue her little brother. The path they walk is riddled with the horrors, and strange creatures. They must overcome great obstacles before ending their treacherous journey. The Intruders is the first book in the Visitors Trilogy, and is approximately 55,500 words. The book has been professionally edited and proofread for you reading pleasure. It is a Young Adult, Action Adventure, Apocalyptic novel, and contains violence, mild language, and frightening scenes. Reader discretion is advised.

Pick up your copy at Amazon today.